UC Davis Veterinarian Elected Chair of Science Panel for Major Ecosystem Restoration Effort

Dr. Joseph Gaydos, VMD, PhD, has been elected to chair the Science Panel of the Puget Sound Partnership, Washington State’s comprehensive effort to restore Puget Sound, the nation’s largest inland sea.

Washington State recently launched a major effort to restore Puget Sound, the southern half of the 17,000 square kilometer inland Salish Sea shared by Washington State and British Colombia. Home to iconic wildlife species including three ecotypes of killer whales, five species of salmon, and nine species of penguin-like seabirds called alcids, Puget Sound is recognized world-wide as a biodiversity hotspot.

Unfortunately, contaminants, over-harvest, habitat conversion and other stressors have reduced this great system to a shadow of its former self. For example, over 100 species in the ecosystem are listed as threatened, endangered or are candidates for listing. http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/whatsnew/article2.cfm?id=2458

Science is the foundation for this restoration effort, and the Washington Academy of Sciences hand-selected a panel of prominent scientists in the region to provide expertise and advice to guide the restoration of this major marine ecosystem. In December, Dr. Gaydos was elected to serve as chair of this panel, building on his two years of service as a panel member.

Gaydos, a 1994 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, is a senior wildlife veterinarian at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s Wildlife Health Center, where he serves as Regional Director and Chief Scientist of the SeaDoc Society, based on Orcas Island, WA. He has been studying marine wildlife and ecosystem health in Puget Sound for more than a decade and has published numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts on topics as wide ranging as diseases of killer whales to major ecological principles for designing healthy ecosystems.

“I am honored to have been elected by my peers to lead the Science Panel,” said Gaydos. When asked if he was surprised that a veterinarian was elected to such a critical position, he said “I think more and more people understand that wildlife health, human health and ecosystem health are inter-connected. We are really talking about the concept of One Health,” said Gaydos. “Wildlife and ecosystem health are critical because they also benefit people, and ultimately a healthy ecosystem bolsters the economy.” Washington State is heavily dependent upon marine-related ecotourism, is one of the top shellfish producing states in the nation and attracts top businesses and talent because of the quality of life that living near Puget Sound affords people.

Gaydos, who also has a PhD from the University of Georgia where he was employed at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, specifically credits his veterinary training with teaching him to deal with multiple systems simultaneously and being able to explain science in clear terms to policy makers. In addition to serving as Chair of the Puget Sound Partnership’s science panel, Gaydos has served as a Governor-appointed member of the Northwest Straits Commission since 2004, studies diseases of marine wildlife, and provides veterinary support for wildlife biologists in the region.


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